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Mars Ahead? SpaceX Breaks Ground on Texas Spaceport

The rocket launches due to begin as early as 2016 on the southernmost tip of Texas will be a critical step toward one day establishing a human presence on Mars, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said Monday. With waves from the Gulf of Mexico crashing just over the dunes and crabs skittering around a tent erected for the groundbreaking, Musk said he expects SpaceX to invest $100 million in the world's first commercial orbital spaceport during the next three to four years.

Musk said the commercial satellite launch revenue that's generated at the Boca Chica Beach site, east of Brownsville, would fuel California-based SpaceX's objective of establishing settlements on Mars. "It could very well be that the first person that departs for another planet will depart from this location," he said. Beginning as early as the third quarter of 2016, the spaceport could handle 12 or more launches per year. SpaceX will continue using government launch sites in Florida and California, but Musk said the company's manifest would outpace the available launch windows at those existing sites.

SpaceX Unveils New Spacecraft 2:37

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— The Associated Press